Emerging literature suggests that dietary lutein may have important functions in cognitive health, but there is not enough data to substantiate its effects in human cognition. The current study was intended to determine the overall effect of lutein on the main domains of cognition in the adult population based on available placebo randomized-controlled trials. Literature searches were conducted in PubMed, AGRICOLA, Scopus, MEDLINE, and EMBASE on 14 November 2020. The effect of lutein on complex attention, executive function and memory domains of cognition were assessed by using an inverse-variance meta-analysis of standardized mean differences (SMD) (Hedge's g method). Dietary lutein was associated with slight improvements in cognitive performance in complex attention (SMD 0.02, 95% CI -0.27 to 0.31), executive function (SMD 0.13, 95% CI -0.26 to 0.51) and memory (SMD 0.03, 95% CI -0.26 to 0.32), but its effect was not significant. Change-from-baseline analysis revealed that lutein consumption could have a role in maintaining cognitive performance in memory and executive function. Although dietary lutein did not significantly improve cognitive performance, the evidence across multiple studies suggests that lutein may nonetheless prevent cognitive decline, especially executive function. More intervention studies are needed to validate the role of lutein in preventing cognitive decline and in promoting brain health.
Keywords: adult population; brain health; complex attention; executive function; memory; meta-analysis; xanthophyll carotenoid.